The COVID–19 pandemic transformed the way we work. By April 2020, 16 million Americans worked from home. By December, over 41% were fully remote. It’s estimated at least 25% will continue to work remotely through 2021 and beyond. This rapid transition to remote work gave rise to many challenges for SMEs, with document management among the most significant.
How do businesses securely manage physical documents away from the office while giving employees the access they need? Employee homes lack the secure document management and disposal facilities present in many offices. Documents may be disposed of insecurely in breach of regulatory standards. It’s difficult to limit access to authorized employees and to keep track of who has a record and where it is.
These problems affect businesses whether employees are remote or in the office. But they have become more pressing over the last year. As IBM noted in COVID–19 and the future of business, the coronavirus pandemic created “a sense of urgency around digital transformation.” Almost 60% of organizations accelerated digital transformation during the pandemic, and 66% completed initiatives that previously encountered resistance.
As you might expect, the digital transformation of business records gained momentum during the pandemic. Businesses are adopting new digital document management processes that scan and convert documents to a digital format. Digitized documents are accessed and managed via an integrated information management solution that provides more flexibility than physical documents and more transparency than traditional digital silos.
Digital transformation of business records has many benefits.
- Location-independent document retrieval. Because documents are digitized and stored centrally, they can be accessed from any location by authorized employees. Modern scan-on-demand services keep a business’s physical records in a secure facility, scanning and digitally delivering them when they are needed. In addition to being more secure, scan-on-demand services are less expensive than delivering physical documents.
- Enhanced access control. Record management portals allow employees to view documents while providing fine-grained access control and tracking. Portals offer complete visibility into who has accessed business records.
- Secure remote working. Records are accessed over a secure, encrypted internet connection. Employees can view only documents they are authorized to access. There is no risk of records being exposed to unauthorized third parties through inadequate disposal—many data breaches happen every year when physical records are improperly disposed of.
- Regulatory compliance. Information governance is particularly challenging when employees work from potentially insecure locations. However, a secure digital document management system can take on much of the heavy lifting. Modern digital document management systems use highly secure cloud storage, implement sophisticated access controls, and help businesses manage document retention and disposal policies according to relevant regulatory frameworks.
In the wake of COVID–19, businesses are rethinking physical processes and accelerating digital transformation. The digitization of business records helps companies adapt to the new post-pandemic world, but it also gives them the flexibility they need to respond to future events.
About the author:
Kurt Thies, VP, Product Evangelist | Access
Kurt has over 25 years of experience in strategic records and information management solutions. Kurt previously founded Accutrac Software Inc. (later acquired by Iron Mountain), the records management software solution used by leading law firms, government agencies and Fortune 1000 corporations. Kurt’s understanding of both the client experience and software has allowed him to advise numerous global records management companies and their clients successfully.